Throwing Caution to the Wind

On one hand, you should be careful not to overinterpret idiosyncratic election results. On the other, there’s no way you can ignore survey results like these from Public Policy Polling’s most recent poll of Ohio voters:

Obama led Mitt Romney 50–41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50–39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51–38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50–36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51–37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53–36. It used to be Sarah Palin’s numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry’s deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964.

President Obama benefits from a hugely unified Democratic base in the state. Obama gets 88 percent to 92 percent of the vote against the Republican candidates, despite the fact that his approval rating among Ohio Democrats is 73 percent. If Democrats maintain this level of unity through next year, it bodes very well for the president’s prospects in the state.

With that said, it’s important to recognize the extent to which national trends influence trends on the state level. If Obama sees his popularity decline nationwide, then he can expect it to take a similar dip in individual states. Put another way, for this performance to mean anything next year, conditions can’t get any worse than they are now.

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